Sights in Paraguay Vol 2 – Asunción

The capital of Paraguay is one of the oldest in South America, founded in 1537. Not much remains these days of early Spanish conquistadors time. Today, it is a city where rich and poor live side by side and the culture of Western style shopping malls is growing. The city does have few interesting spots to discover but first a word about timetables. The places have the most strange opening hours. While many restaurants don’t open for dinner before 7 pm in our hotel in Encarnación the dinner time was between 3-8 pm. As you can gather there is clearly not much consistency there. Many establishments have closures during the day anytime between 12-3pm and information about opening hours is not easily found. Why oh why don’t they just display them at the door?

Museo del Barro

This little gem of a museum is definitely worth a visit (strange opening times too, closed Mondays and Tuesdays but at least info on their website). The have a lot of contemporary and ceramic art from the region. We were surprised by the amount of erotic art in otherwise pretty Catholic country. Also, the women seem to have pretty classical style, round bodies. No body image issues in Paraguay – whoop whoop.

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Tips, tips!

One disadvantage of being a white person here is becoming really clear. You are put into a white person box. White person has money and is source of tips from different kinds of weird services. Tricycle ride costs you triple because you have money. And you want to buy all sorts of things-from light-sticks to coral shells and Boracay magnets. Being put into this box is really sad since we wanted to make friends with local people and experience “real”, local life. We don’t mind contributing to the economy and helping people out but it would be nice if interaction would go beyond the point of selling us something. Also, I am afraid while English is an official language and many people possess a basic ability to communicate in it, the level is not good enough to have an actual conversation.

At the same time this all made me realise how vain some of our “Western” lifestyle is. People just lie on the beach, buy some useless crap, spend days having massage and drinking beer. Is it surprising that we are treated a bit like money bags since we clearly have all this money to “waste”? You cannot blame local people for making their ends meet the best way they can. I did some google research and discovered that average Philippine salary is about PHP11700 per month. While you can probably make your ends meet here things like travelling are not in question not to mention just hanging around, buying useless crap. Read More »

Canberra

I’ve never seen a city so functional and soulless. Australia’s capital was founded in 1913 in order to avoid having to choose either of the rival cities Melbourne or Sydney as the seat of newly formed federal government. So a new city was carved into New South Wales’s limestone somewhere in the middle of nowhere between the two big cities – in-land, to fortify it against any possible invasion. This hyper-planned, purpose-built nature of Canberra transcends every aspect of the city. There is absolutely no reason to live there unless you work for the government. It’s full of large, more or less representative buildings, all connected by huge highways. When our guidebook told that the city is totally geared towards the car I didn’t realise just how true this was. Our hotel was only about one block away from Parliament House, and still, there was no way of reaching it by foot. Read More »